Friday, December 14, 2007

Faith Is a Reaction, Not a Work

What child has not garnered some impish delight by suddenly jumping out from some dark hiding place and yelling, "Boo!" and then rolling on the floor in laughter and glee over the bizarre behavior of his or her victim? Screeching, screaming, throwing hands in the air, taking a swing at things, falling on the floor, dropping stuff, yelling unpleasantries, even laying hands suddenly on their tormentors are some of the reactions that reap ghoulish delight. Some of the accosted do nothing at all to the perplexity and consternation of their prodder.

Who can blame the victims when they do act in such uncharacteristic or even offensive ways? After all, it was just a reaction, not premeditated, not thought through, not really reflective of their determinations. It just happened-- an action and an equal and opposite reaction. We're all wired to react to stimuli, howbeit that each of us reacts differently.

I see faith in God, at least it's initial stage, in a similar vein. It is a metaphysical reaction by people to a word from God. Abraham, the model for what faith can accomplish, found his one day when God’s word came to him and he believed. We could say faith starts with a head turn in response to God’s tap on one’s shoulder. I believe everyone is wired with this capacity, hence God's command that all respond (coupled with the outpouring of His spirit on all flesh), but everyone does so with varying degrees of responsiveness. Some, like the unmoved prudes in the example above, give not so much as a rise to the word’s impetus, others go hog wild.

The Bible leads me to understand that faith is not a work, hence the contrast in that all too famous passage (as well as this one). Works are the fruit of will exerting effort, faith is the soul's reaction to God's interposition. We have all heard faith described as a leap, which is a reasonable perception, so long as one envisions the leap resulting from the Holy Spirit saying, "Boo!"